March Madness may give rise to Cinderellas, but there are no overnight sensations when it comes to putting the pumpkin through the net. The players you see out on the court this weekend have paid their dues in the gym long before they lace up their kicks on game day.
James Naismith may not have realized it when he first nailed a peach basket to the wall and started tossing a round sphere into it, but he devised a sport that taxes nearly every system in the body. Just for starters, basketball requires speed, strength, stamina, explosiveness, power and amazing hand-eye coordination.
Developing all those skills requires a serious training program; otherwise, the next guy will be putting you up on YouTube because he worked harder than you did. I can help. As a strength and conditioning coach since 1978, one who worked with teams like the Charlotte Bobcats (back when they were the Hornets), I know what it takes to succeed.
Coaches need to implement an efficient and effective pre-game warm-up system that works to get their team properly prepared for the game. During this time of year, coaches should really make the most of their pre-practice and pre-game stretching routines. Going into tournament or playoff time, the last thing a team needs is an injury to a player.
Before The Whistle Blows
The pre-practice warm-up I implemented with the Charlotte Hornets (now Bobcats) usually took about 12 minutes to complete.
We'd start out by running three laps around the court.
Next, the players would stretch their calf muscles and Achilles tendons by stretching against a wall. These sites can be prone to injury due to the frequent use among running and jumping athletes.
For an excellent calf stretch, face and lean against a wall keeping the leg or legs straight while keeping the heels down.
Additionally, keep the toes pointed inward. When stretching the Achilles tendon, the same stretch, however, the knees should be bent and once again the heels remain on the floor.
Team Stretching/rope Jumping
Next in our warm-up sessions, we would spend 2-3 minutes jumping rope while doing various routines. This is a great way to warm-up the legs while preparing the ankle and knee joints for practice.
After our jump rope sessions would come 5-8 minutes of team stretching. Make sure you are really concentrating on the major muscle group such as:
- Lower Back
One area we stretch that is often overlooked is the upper back or the "lat" muscles, which are key for reaching rebounds and shooting.
While in a seated position, spread both legs as wide as possible with your knees slightly bent. Have teammates hold hands and pull each other forward and upward. Hold the stretch 5-8 seconds for 3 sets.
After stretching as a team, we put our players on the baseline and continued with a running warm-up for three minutes. These drills consisted of:
- Ankle Flips: Running on the toes without bending the knees
- Butt Kicks: Jogging while leaning forward bringing the heels up behind
- High Knee Pumps: Running with good, powerful extensions of the knees
- Power Skips
- Carioca: Running laterally with crossover step
- Defensive Slides
Not until we finished this routine did we start practice. Coaches - be smart!
Now For The Weightlifting Routine: Generic Basketball
Tired of wheezing your way through those 1-on-1 matches in the driveway? Wish you could slam dunk instead of having your opponent flush one in your grill? Everything you need is here!